It’s been nearly six years since the legendary show Lost ended its six season television run. All these years later, the show still holds up as one of the finest serialized shows to ever air. Even for those that didn’t love the ending, the focus on the characters is reason enough to revisit this emotional roller coaster. Upon a rewatch, the show is able to shine without having to wait weeks between episodes and months between seasons to uncover the answer to the mysteries the island presents. The following are the 10 best episodes of Lost ever produced.
Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead!
10. “A Tale of Two Cities” (Season 3, Episode 1)
The season three premiere offers one of the greatest misdirects of the entire series with the opening sighting of the Barracks. A classic Lost fake-out where a seemingly innocent suburban book club is interrupted by none other than the crash of Oceanic flight 815, this opening is truly shocking. Since the audience is not familiar with any of the characters yet, the slow realization that this scene is occurring on the island that our survivors currently inhabit is a thing of beauty. The introduction of Juliet Burke stands out, as does the excellent usage of the song “Downtown.” The season premieres of Lost seem to always nail down the music in the opening scenes, and “A Tale of Two Cities” fits right in. Seeing how The Others live and that they are indeed civilized was a great shock. Meanwhile, who can forget the infamous fish biscuits that Sawyer would uncover in an episode that humanizes his character to a degree the show had not yet established.
9. “The Shape of Things to Come” (Season 4, Episode 9)
Following the writers’ strike that interrupted an underrated fourth season of the show, “The Shape of Things to Come” is an excellent episode that in retrospect is one of the best the series produced. Tightly-paced, the action is plentiful, suspenseful and emotional. The show picks up revealing Benjamin Linus off the island and in a desert. Audiences are instantly captivated as Ben has yet to turn the wheel that moves the island and are therefore left wondering how he got there. The flash-forward off the island featuring Sayid and Charles Widmore is thrilling, but it’s the action on the island that steals the show. The terrifying Martin Keamy has arrived on the island and has captured Ben’s adopted daughter, Alex. Ben must choose between protecting the island and protecting the only person he’s ever loved. What follows is one of the most emotionally harrowing scenes in Lost. Having the scene occur to Ben, the despicable antagonist to this point in the series, leaves audiences feeling empathetic and sets the tone for the remainder of the show.
8. “There’s No Place Like Home” (Season 4, Episode 12-14)
The jam-packed three-part finale of the fourth season contains so much content that the three hours absolutely fly by. The episode has it all, from action sequences involving Sayid vs Keamy, emotional scenes featuring Ben vs Keamy along with Sawyer jumping off the helicopter, and the trademark shocking ending that viewers had grown accustomed to. Surely, the reveal of Locke’s corpse ranks as one of the most surprising events to unfold throughout the series. Mentioned as Jeremy Bentham throughout the season, the final scene with Jack and Ben in the funeral home discussing the deceased Bentham has viewers finally catching their breath, only to have the camera shift back and reveal the late John Locke. As always, this left audiences frustrated with an off-season of confusion, yet it was a true testament to the show given how often they were able to get away with this. Presenting more questions than answers, viewers still came back and couldn’t get enough, discussing the epic conclusion non-stop until the following season would resume. That is a testament to how gripping this series was. Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the most shocking aspect of all, which was the island moving and disappearing. Simply incredible.
7. “Man of Science, Man of Faith” (Season 2, Episode 1)
The season two premiere picks up exactly where the thrilling season one conclusion left off. Audiences had an entire summer to ponder what was in the hatch and the show didn’t disappoint. Rather than drawing out this development as many shows in its place would be tempted to do, Lost jumps right back, immediately showing the infamous “Swan” over the beautiful music of Mama Cass. The first sighting of Desmond Hume along with the first time we hear the words “See you in another life, brother!,” this is as exciting an episode as it is monumental. Seeing the infamous numbers go from neat recurring numbers to an actual sequence needed to be entered was yet another shocking development for the show. Knowing how the story unfolds in the series as a whole, the notion of a man of science becoming a man of faith is interesting as a development in its infancy stage.
6. “The Incident” (Season 5, Episode 16-17)
Season finales dominate this list and the season five conclusion, where audiences finally meet the real Jacob, is an absolutely masterful episode. Taking the theory of variables given to him by the late Daniel Faraday, Jack decides to open fire on everyone in an attempt to close this timeline. Of course, Sawyer is quite content in this timeline and doesn’t want this destruction. Amid Jack’s act of chaos, having Sawyer as the voice of reason is a beautiful role reversal. Juliet falling down the Swan shaft remains a tear-jerker, as the character had quickly entrenched herself as one of the series’ most beloved. Of course, the reveal of the ancient enemy, “The Man in Black” also known as “The Smoke Monster,” is the most gripping element of the episode. The con man Ben is deceived into murdering Jacob and sets the stage for yet another shocking conclusion involving John Locke.
5. “Exodus” (Season 1, Episode 23-25)
The original season finale, this three-part episode captivates audiences from the moment it begins. Danielle Rousseau entering the camp pleading to the Oceanic survivors leads to a hanging cliffhanger. Audiences are led to believe that “The Others” are seeking the newborn baby Aaron. However, “the boy” in question is right in front of the audience’s face as Walt is set to depart on the ill-fated raft. This was a surprise that nobody saw coming, as Claire’s baby did in fact seem the logical choice given the story arc having recently centered on Aaron’s birth. The launch of the raft remains one of the most impactful scenes of Lost as the perfect score lends waves of optimism, only for it all to come crumbling down in the near future. From the explosion of Artz to the reveal that the numbers are engraved on the outside of the hatch, “Exodus” is one of the series’ crowning achievements.
4. “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1-2)
It’s not often that a pilot of a very successful show can be called one of the series’ best episodes; however, the “Pilot” of Lost is one of the best pilots in television history. There’s a reason why the show became such a pop culture phenomenon and that’s due to how polished the pilot was. Looking back, it’s amazing how well the pilot holds up, as it draws audiences in from the moment it begins. With flashbacks of Jack, Kate and Charlie on Oceanic 815, audiences quickly learn that non-linear storytelling will be the norm on Lost. Waking up in the jungle, the camera zooms out of Jack Shephard’s eye, quickly revealing the horrific plane crash. Jack rushes from injured person to injured person, culminating in the intense moment of a man getting sucked into the plane engine and the engine exploding. It’s difficult to think of a show that so deftly hooks viewers as Lost managed to. The pilot is where it all began and it’s easy to see what made the show so great.
3. “Walkabout” (Season 1, Episode 4)
Containing one of the biggest twists of the series, “Walkabout” is a great episode with a conclusion that rivals the best ever produced. Using an effective flashback story, John Locke is developed only to have the shock revealed that he was once paralyzed. Four episodes into the series, audiences had no clue regarding the healing properties of the island. Viewers see John Locke walking perfectly fine after the crash and the flashbacks disguise his disability beautifully. His mention of going on an intense hiking exposition, known as a walkabout, seemed reasonable. Audiences question why his boss claims he can’t do so, but brush that fact aside. Of course, Locke does not like being told what to do and we discover that he is indeed in a wheelchair. The beautiful, emotional ending thanks to Terry O’Quinn’s masterful performance ensures this episode will never be forgotten.
2. “The Constant” (Season 4, Episode 5)
Often cited as the best episode of Lost, it’s difficult to argue that “The Constant” is not in a tier of its own. Containing a beautiful love story and thrilling surprises, the episode is certainly in contention for the top title. Desmond’s consciousness traveling between his 2004 self on the island and 1996 is complicated, yet is given to audiences in a fashion that isn’t confusing. Boldly using time travel and cementing the series in the science fiction genre, the only thing holding “The Constant” from the top spot is a lack of other island characters. Desmond carries the show and other cast members are hardly missed here, but as a whole, there is one episode which manages to top this offering.
1. “Through the Looking Glass” (Season 3, Episode 22-23)
Viewers had come to expect enormous twists by now, particularly with season finales. However, what was to come was unprecedented; an idea that nobody saw coming and would change the show forever. A story taking place off the island grips audiences as they carefully pay attention for any clues. Following a bearded Jack, the buildup continues until the very end when he regroups with Kate. Seeing them both off the island, audiences are as confused as ever wondering how it has never been mentioned that they knew each other. Then, the game-changing twist blows everyone away with the iconic phrase “We have to go back!” Audiences realize they have been watching a flash-forward rather than a flashback. “Through the Looking Glass” gave the series a jolt when it needed it the most. Also memorable for the death of Charlie Pace, his dying words “Not Penny’s boat” will never be forgotten by fans of the show.